Ward 1 councillor Dan Gibson sees a day when all Guelph Transit buses will be powered by electricity, not only as an environmental choice, but as a fiscal one as well.
On Tuesday afternoon Gibson will put forth a motion aimed at exploring ways the city can achieve low carbon goals, such as an electric bus fleet, moving forward.
“Exploring pathways for aligning
“As the technology presents itself, and when it makes economic sense, I want city staff to have the mandate” to pursue low carbon options, Gibson said in an interview.
Primarily that means switching Guelph Transit to electric buses and using low carbon options in future city capital projects when and where it makes sense.
Gibson said the city is already aware and attempting to make sound environmental decisions, he wants it eventually mandated and set as policy moving forward so that those decisions are clearer for staff and easier to make.
This motion will hopefully lead to staff having “the sledgehammer” it needs to make those low carbon decisions, Gibson said, adding that he wants to see Guelph at the forefront of the movement towards low carbon transit and capital projects.
He realizes Tuesday’s motion is only the first step and, perhaps more importantly, said that making low carbon and other environmentally-sound decisions as a city also has to make fiscal sense.
In 2017 the city is expected to spend $4 million on gasoline and diesel fuel and have a collective utility bill of $10 million, according to the 2017 budget.
Gibson said staff is currently aware of and researching other low carbon options, including possible funding opportunities from other levels of government moving forward.
If the city’s bus fleet were to switch over to electric, it would be done on a gradual basis as each diesel-powered buses outlived its life span.
Gibson said the city’s current Community Energy Plan is 10 years old and needs updating.
“Separate from the community energy side however, is our own Corporate Energy Policy, which is overseen by our newly formed climate change sustainability office and has a straight forward mandate on energy: Use Less, Make More, Use It More Wisely and Reduce Costs,” Gibson said.
Gibson said for a long time the argument towards green energy initiatives was an environmental and moral one. Technology has advanced to the point that it is also starting to make fiscal sense to make the switch in certain situations, Gibson said.
“Even in the absence of government strategies, I am becoming increasingly convinced that the speed in which our larger economy is moving in this space, there is also now very strong fiscal argument to moving in this direction as well,” Gibson said.
“So yes, the moral imperative exists, but (if done correctly) the business case also exists and I believe appeals to the broader common currency approach our residents are looking for,” Gibson said, who also stressed the importance of the city showing leadership on low carbon decisions.